Archive for September, 2019
“Then a scribe came to Him, ‘Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.’ Jesus said to him, ‘The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head’” (Matthew 8:19-20).
It is a bold claim being made by this potential disciple; a willingness to follow “anywhere” the One who has “nowhere” to call home. Jesus is not impressed with such declarations. He is far more interested in a disciple that is loyal where one is right now; not a pledge of allegiance for when you arrive to a place you might never go. Present tense action is the best expression of true discipleship; not confessions of one’s intentions for the future.
“Commit your works to the Lord and your plans will be established” (Proverbs 16:3).
Today is the first day of the rest of your life. It is the only day you of which you are assured. The quality of tomorrow, or any future days we might be given, will be determined by the quality of our affections. It is the person of undivided allegiance and single-minded devotion to the Lord that offers an unrelenting pursuit toward all things.
“How blessed is the man whose strength is in You, in whose heart are the highways to Zion” (Psalm 84:5)!
Too often strength and confidence is found in one’s present circumstances. We become settled; comfortable. Faith, however, embraces life as a highway; living with the anticipation of turns, exits, detours; a journey filled with both the expected and unexpected; strengthened by the watchful presence of God, who has established our final destination.
“For You are my lamp, O Lord; and the Lord illuminates my darkness” (2 Samuel 22:29).
True faith is exposed not on Sunday mornings but, rather, those private moments of darkness dominated by loss, pain, and uncertainty. Too much of what’s passed off today as faith is nothing more than trite phrases; quaint and syrupy metaphors exchanged as pleasantries between those who mask their tears behind a facade of “Sunday attire” and smiling faces. Confessing faith while sitting on a padded pew in a climate controlled sanctuary is useless until it is lighting the way in the harshness of life’s darkest days.
“The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, he will grow like a cedar in Lebanon” (Psalm 92:12).
The veracity of one’s faith isn’t proved out by the disciplines we practice—reading the bible, praying, and attending church. There are a great many that have done these very things, even for decades, but then put down their cross; no longer walk the narrow path, and choose instead to abide with those crowding the wide path that leads to destruction. Biblical faith trends upward; it is evident in what one is becoming. Spiritual disciplines are understood as a means to an end; not an end in and of themselves. Only when the disciplines are understood in this light will faith flourish. Otherwise, these become nothing more than religious practices that soon fade out with boredom.
“For I have said, ‘Lovingkindness will be built up forever; in the heavens You will establish Your faithfulness’” (Psalm 89:2).
The faithfulness of God’s lovingkindness is to be revealed on the front lines of his people’s lives. When negative emotions, such as bitterness, anger, resentment, and jealousy seek to imprison us, we must depict God’s love as the necessary antidote to dissolve these poisonous bars of captivity. The power of God’s love to redeem cannot be only our belief, it must be the intentional pursuit of all our interactions.
“About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice,…’My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me’” (Matthew 27:46).
Once you have experienced enough of life to know irreversible loss, disappointment, and pain, there is unexpected comfort to be found in these crying words of Jesus. In reading the sacred text for the first time, one might have expected another miracle from Jesus; to spare himself such an experience as this. Miracles, however, are a break from reality; the norm. Jesus’ cry is a depiction of real faith; a faith that does not offer a pass from the harsh realities of life but provides, instead, a hope to which we cling when tripped by the crippling circumstances of adversity.
“Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin” (Romans 6:6).
Only by fully appreciating the sacrificial imagery of the cross, and the work of Christ accomplished upon this instrument of death, do we stand any chance of comprehending the implications of his call to carry our cross and to crucify ourselves upon it daily. Don’t be fooled by stained glass and padded pews. A cross is rough, unattractive, unsanitary, unappealing, inconvenient, risky, deadly, painful, and disruptive. No wonder so few pick it and even more lay it down.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you…” (Isaiah 43:2).
Having always considered myself comfortable around water, my one experience with whitewater rafting left me shaken and pledging that I would never do it again. My preference is now to be found in the stillness and familiarity of a lake, pond, or bay, not the uncertainties that come with raging rapids. Life, however, is more like that dreaded river—moments of sheer terror that must be endured while clinging to the promise of still waters that lie ahead. Time and time again, from the Red Sea to the Jordan River, God’s faithfulness has been proven through the watery paths that would stand between His people and their ultimate destiny.
“In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men” (John 1:4).
The toll life takes can skew one’s perspective…dreams fade; hope dims. The life of Jesus points to possibilities greater than anything we could have ever imagined. Embodying human flesh did not drain life from Jesus but, rather, He brought life to human existence. His is a testimony of what our life can and will be.